I just finished a fabulous book – The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World. And just in time for a short vacation in Florida, where I took Nancy Colier’s words to heart and ‘mind’!
My main takeaways:
– Take some time to look beyond the small screen to the big world around you
– Be in the moment, whatever that moment is
– If you believe a tree falls in the forest whether someone hears it or not, you might also believe you can experience special moments whether you send every one out on social media or not.
Also – you can control how much information you access, how many emails and texts you check,* even which thoughts and stresses you give your attention.
Ragged and weary before my five-day excursion to the Sunshine State (am I the only one who almost always gets run down and sick right before they go away?) – I was nevertheless armed with the wisdom of my latest read. And it helped me relax and enjoy the many varied moments of the trip – from seeing the NY Mets practice and play, up close and personal, in a spring training game in Port St. Lucie; to several sun-soaked hours at Cocoa Beach; to an inspirational day of exploration at Kennedy Space Center, where we even saw a real-life ULA rocket launch!
I chose not to stress over things I couldn’t control … like whether the weather would be perfect every day (it was), whether flights would be smooth and on time (they weren’t) and even whether I’d fully recover from the nasty head cold that packed a punch the week before (I miraculously did!).
Somewhat uncharacteristically, I also decided not to Tweet or Instagram, or even send many texts or make many calls. I tried to focus on stress-free ‘being’ – taking in the interesting things around me and, as the book suggested, giving my mind some much-needed ‘down time.’
The Power of Off also encourages you to use your senses, all five, to enhance your experiences. Here’s what I sensed …
Sight – Pelicans flying in formation in clear blue skies, and those tiny sandpiper birds running toward the shoreline, sticking their beaks in the sand, then scurrying away so fast the incoming tide misses them every time
Smell – sunscreen (in February/early March)
Taste – Key lime pie (from Key Lime Pie Company store – naturally); fried plantains (from Sandbar Sports Grill); shrimp on the Cocoa Beach Pier; and sweet, juicy Florida oranges from a local market. (I’m sure I would’ve included frozen, chocolate-coated bananas from the Pier, too, if I’d had a chance to try.)
Sound – The crack of a baseball bat and slap of the ball hitting the glove. Also quiet times when you heard nothing but birds and waves.
Feel – Bare feet on the sand, hot sun on my face.
And as far as ‘being in the moment,’ I did have to do my really geeky thing and record a few times when my watch read 12:34.56 at different venues:
I dedicate this blog to my son Dan, who bought me the book that’s inspired and guided me so well. Watch for my next blog: ‘Food for thought at my Elwood Library bookclub’ …
*It takes practice. I’m still pretty tied to my phone and acknowledge technology’s many benefits (like sharing this blog with you!). But I’m finding taking little breaks here and there can be freeing.